Patrick Reed penalized at Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge

Former Masters champion Patrick Reed was penalized two strokes for appearing to deliberately improve his lie in a bunker during the third round of the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

The American was filmed taking a number of practice swings, which had the effect of flattening the sand behind his ball.

The incident happened on the 11th hole at Albany Golf Club, and quickly went viral on social media. Reed, who was leading after two days, was called to discuss the incident with rules officials after his round and hit with the punishment.

The penalty eventually proved a major impediment to Reed’s victory hopes in the event, finishing just two shots behind winner Henrik Stenson of Sweden in third place with tournament host Woods four shots behind in fourth place.

Under the rules, players can ground their clubs before a shot in sanded waste areas — unlike in official bunkers — but cannot improve their ability to hit the ball by “removing or pressing down sand or loose soil.”

Reed said he did not knowingly seek to improve his lie, but added “it is my word against their word.”

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‘Intent would not matter’

“Every time I get in the bunker I’m scared to even get my club close to it [sand],” the 29-year-old told reporters.

“But whenever you do that if it does hit the sand, just like if you’re in a hazard and you take a practice swing and it brushes grass and the grass breaks, it’s a penalty.

“So because of that and after seeing the video, I accept that. It wasn’t because of any intent, I thought I was far enough away.”

Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice-president of rules and competitions, told reporters Reed accepted his punishment like a “gentleman.”

“Intent would not matter here, that’s not in the mix,” said White.

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Reed sparked controversy after the 2018 Ryder Cup in France when he publicly criticized captain Jim Furyk and team mate Jordan Spieth.

His past has also been the subject of controversy. A article published when he won his breakthrough major at the Masters detailed Reed’s estrangement from his parents and younger sister.

It also resurfaced allegations of cheating made by college teammates in Shane Ryan’s book “Slaying the Tiger.”

Reed denies that he cheated.

“Honestly, I don’t ever regret anything I say,” Reed told reporters after winning the green jacket at Augusta. “I stand by my comments.”

“I’ve evolved into childhood; childhood into high school; high school into college; college into professional golf,” he elaborated when talking to CNN. “They’re just chapters in my life.”

Texan Reed is set to play on Woods’ Presidents Cup team in Australia next week.